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The Tulsa City Council approved a resolution to urge President Biden to designate Greenwood as a national monument. The resolution will encourage Biden to utilize his powers under the Antiquities Act to create the monument.
All councilors present voted in favor of the resolution, except for councilor Jamie Fowler, who abstained.
If approved by Biden, this will be the first national monument in the state of Oklahoma.
A coalition of ten organizations were a part of a community-driven engagement effort. According to Phil Armstrong, one of the organizers, those organizations included Terence Crutcher Foundation, Historic Greenwood Chamber, Vernon AME Church, Greenwood Cultural Center, Zion Baptist Church, and others.
One Greenwood business owner, Cleo Harris, said he was “concerned he is just hearing about it.”
“I’m not against it,” Harris told the council, “but there needs to be better communication.”
According to Armstrong, the process consisted of several community meetings, including one held on Greenwood at Vernon AME.
“This is nothing new,” Armstrong assured the council. “This process has been ongoing for several months.”
Establishing a national monument does require the federal government to gain control of some land or property. Some community members expressed concern that would require some of the buildings on Greenwood to fall under government control.
National monument will show the country that “Greenwood was more than the massacre.”
Reuben Gant, leader of the John Hope Franklin center for reconciliation, allayed those concerns.
“The government is not going to take eminent domain, that is not part of the process,” Gant said. “The buildings on Greenwood are owned by the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and they will continue to be owned by the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.”
“We are on this journey because it is important for us to correct the historical record,” Gant said, speaking to the importance of the moment.
“Greenwood is much more than the massacre,” he continued. “Our intent is to show that the contributions of African Americans meant something to this country.”
Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper also assured community members that the process was still ongoing, and community input would still be heard.
“There will be continued collaboration, there will be continued engagement and that’s going to take place in this process,” Hall-Harper said.